Posthumous honour for Leeds Segway tycoon

He was the Leeds lad from humble beginnings who became a multi-millionaire businessman with a heart of gold.

Jimi Heselden OBE gave away millions to a string of charities before his death aged 62 in September in a tragic accident near his home in Wetherby.

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Now the late inventor, entrepreneur and philanthropist is to be awarded the highest honour in his home city.

Council chiefs will next month grant former Osmondthorpe schoolboy Mr

Heselden the posthumous honour of Freedom of the City as an enduring public memorial.

It will be the first time the honour has been granted posthumously in Leeds.

His name will be placed alongside previous Freedom of the City recipients at Leeds Civic Hall on January 26.

The Lord Mayor and the council's five group leaders will pay tribute to Mr Heselden at a special council meeting before a scroll is presented to his family.

Mr Heselden was chairman of East Leeds-based HESCO Bastion, world-leading manufacturers of the Bastion Concertainer – protective shields which have saved countless soldiers' lives across the world.

Charities he supported include Help for Heroes, St Gemma's and Martin

House Hospice's and the Leeds Community Foundation, which received 23m alone including 10m donated earlier this year.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Coun Jim McKenna, said: "Jimi was an amazing man who apart from being a real success story for Leeds was also remarkably selfless and generous, giving millions to local charities and other worthy causes.

"Everyone who knew Jimi will remember his quiet manner, good nature, and tremendous pride in being from Leeds.

"He will be hugely missed."

Coun Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council, said: "Jimi was an extraordinary person, an inspiration and a great role model, and a genuinely nice man, and we felt it only right to break with tradition to honour him in this way.

"Jimi played a real part in city life, sponsoring the Chelsea Garden two years in a row, and achieving gold status at this year's competition – a true historical moment that will not be forgotten. Had

Jimi lived, he would almost certainly have received freeman status."

Coun Andrew Carter, leader of the Conservative group on Leeds City Council, said: "Jimi was a true son of Leeds, his experiences growing up and working in the city had a major influence on his life. His enthusiasm for Leeds was well known and his investment and commitment to helping community groups and charities were an example to us all. He was a warm and generous man who achieved great things in his life and he will be remembered as a one in a million character leaving a legacy his family can be rightly proud of."

Coun Stewart Golton, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: "Jimi Heselden was a fantastic role model for the city. He pulled himself up by his boot-straps from humble beginnings to become one of the city's biggest benefactors."

Mr Hesleden died when his Segway personal transporter plunged 40ft into the River Wharfe near his home in Boston Spa on September 26.

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